Downpatrick SDLP councillor and Assembly candidate Colin McGrath has said that he is concerned at the changes to school financial management that will result in additional pressures being forced on to local schools.
Commenting, Councillor McGrath said: ‘This is one of those Ministerial ‘swipe of a pen’ moments in their last days of office that could have a massive and profound impact on school children for a generation.
“The decision endorsed by the Minster of Education will see some schools now being responsible for meeting increased payments for teachers superannuation, increased National Insurance payments and cost of living rises to staff pay. All of these additional payments could run to thousands of additional pounds in school budgets – and local schools will have to bare this from their existing budgets.
“I am most concerned that such additional monies will have to be found by diverting funds away from front line education delivery such as teachers pay which could for some schools mean the loss of teaching staff, the inability to pay for teaching cover and the reduction of extra curricular activities in schools.
“I am also disappointed that a Minister would take such a massive decision just weeks before an election but also without allowing good time for scrutiny by the Assembly.
“Once again, in Northern Ireland, it is our front line public services that are being robbed when it comes to saving money without any consideration to the many other elements of our government funding which could be reduced.
“I will be liaising with the department in the coming weeks to discuss the implications to schools in our area and hope they will realise the perilous situation this leaves our local schools in and will advise a new Education Minister to reverse this ridiculous decision.”